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The Life of Eugene De Mazenod
21/5/2012

St Eugene de Mazenod, the founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, was described by his contemporaries as a man who had "a heart as big as the world".  Eugene was shocked by the destruction of the French Revolution. This experience, added to his deep relationship with God led him to devote his life to the Church. By founding the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, in Southern France in 1816, Fr De Mazenod tried to express and communicate the Gospel of Christ to an increasingly diverse and secular world.

During his journey of faith he experienced a moment of conversion and intense experience of God’s love for him.  Through this moment of conversion he came to recognise his human dignity.

I looked for happiness outside of God and, to my sorrow, looked there for too long a time.  How many times, in my past life, did my heart, torn, tormented, throw itself in desperation at its God whom it had abandoned?  Can I ever forget those bitter tears which the sight of the Cross caused to stream from my eyes one Good Friday? Ah! They welled up from the depths of my heart and nothing could stop them.  They were too abundant to hide from the people who, like myself, were attending that moving service.  I was in mortal sin, and it was this that caused my sorrow.  It was a moment singularly different from what I had experienced in certain other instances.  Never was my soul more relieved, and never did it feel happier.  And it was simply because, during that torrent of tears, despite my grief, or better, by reason of it, my soul leapt toward its final end, toward God, its only good, whose loss it felt so keenly.  Why say more?  Could I ever do justice describing what I felt at that moment? Just thinking about it fills my heart with sweet consolation.

Thus, I looked for happiness outside of God, and outside of him found only affliction and misfortune.  But happily – happily a thousand times over – that good Father, despite my unworthiness, showered me with the riches of his mercy.  The least I can do now is make up for lost time and redouble my love for him.  Let all my actions, thoughts, etc., be directed toward that end.  What more glorious occupation than, in all and for all, to act only for God, to love him above all, to love him all the more because I have come to love him so late. Ah!  The happiness of heaven begins here below....Let us choose now!

Eugene de Mazenod - Good Friday Experience (1807)

 

THE SHORT VERSION: KEY EVENTS OF HIS LIFE

 

1782      birth in Aix en Provence

1791      forced into exile in Italy by the French Revolution

1802      return to France

1808      entered the Seminary of St. Sulpice, Paris, to study for the priesthood

1811      ordained priest

1812      returned to Aix and did not go into a parish but

              dedicated his ministry to those not being touched by the structures of the Church:

               the poor who spoke Provençal, youth, prisoners, neglected inhabitants of  small villages

1816      founded the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (initially Missionaries of Provence)

1823      appointed Vicar General of Marseilles

1832      ordained Bishop of Icosia, but with residence in Marseilles

1837      appointed Bishop of Marseilles

1841      sends first Oblate missionaries to Canada and Ireland and England

1861      death on 21 May

1975      beatified by Pope Paul VI as a missionary passionate for Jesus Christ and for the Church

1995      canonised by Pope John Paul II

TODAY  his missionary spirit continues in over 4000 Missionary Oblates in 67 countries, thousands of laity in the Mazenodian family throughout the world, and the members of 44 institutes of consecrated life connected to his charism. Many find in St Eugene an intercessor for families in difficulties

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